Abused children face social experiment

30 Dec 2009 3:26 PMJann Stuckey

Plans to broaden the entry qualifications for child safety officers came under fire from the State Opposition and experts alike when the Child Safety Minister revealed her key to improving frontline staff retention.

Labelling the Minister as completely out of touch and lacking understanding of the need for properly qualified staff, LNP Shadow Child Safety Minister Jann Stuckey said this latest band aid solution was a dangerous social experiment to impose upon already at-risk children.

“Experts have described Minister Keech’s ideas to increase staff as retrograde and untested, yet it appears the Minister thinks she knows best,” said Mrs Stuckey.

“Arrogantly saying ‘I have no doubt in my mind that a key to improving staff retention is to broaden the entry qualification to allow for a more diversified workforce’ exposes a Minister who cannot or will not take advice from experience professionals who quite clearly have a different opinion.

“This Beattie-Bligh Labor Government has had over four years to stem the flow of staff leaving, and now they are quitting in their droves.

“Since Minister Keech took over the reins, there has been a 60% increase in staff resignations.

“A solution can only be found by addressing the cause of staff resignations but the Beattie-Bligh Labor Government has not even bothered to conduct staff satisfaction surveys for two years to find out their concerns.

“How can the Minister justify a situation where only one in four staff are frontline officers?

“Is it any wonder staff burn out, feel undervalued and leave?

“The LNP recognises the misguided focus on investigation and absence of commitment to assisting families and children has led to child abuse reports spiralling out of control.

“Staff become disillusioned when they realise the Department is just one big investigative bureau without a family preservation focus.

“Professors Lonne and Healy’s words of wisdom should be taken seriously as their studies have shown that lack of family inclusion in the child protection process spells disaster.

“The Minister needs to take a good honest look at the way her Department operates. As the LNP has been saying for almost two years now, the current system is fundamentally flawed and needs an urgent overhaul of its management and procedures.

“Queensland’s vulnerable children deserve better. And so do the dedicated individuals who choose to work in this highly demanding field.”

Media contact: Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919
30 December 2008